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Opinion

GUEST COLUMN-DOWNING: Time to unite Alberta’s independence movement

The answer is the creation of a big-tent United Independence Party. One that is willing to make the threat of independence from Canada, and actually mean it.

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We are now watching the political and economic bludgeoning of Alberta’s industry and personal freedoms by Eastern Canada.  Because of the failure of local establishment politicians to stop it, now is the time for unity between all political parties who are willing to fight back.

On February 10, 2020, Alberta and the rest of Canada watched Alberta Premier Jason Kenney – the man who was elected by Albertans to be the “roughest-toughest-rootin-tootingest” pro-Alberta, anti-Ottawa Premier to fight for the equality of Alberta within confederation – use the language of socialist deindustrialization and faux-environmentalism when he publicly stated in an interview with Don Braid of the Calgary Herald:

“I have a firm grasp of the obvious. There is no reasonable person that can deny that in the decades to come we will see a gradual shift from hydrocarbon-based energy to other forms of energy.” 

This is not the language of a principled fighter or a master tactician. This is the language of a man (enjoying both a federal MP pension from Ottawa and a premier’s salary) who has resigned himself to the demands of an ideological Liberal government demanding the decarbonisation of Alberta’s economy by 2050. He has just told the domestic and & international investment community that there is no long-term future in Alberta oil and gas.

So, if the UCP Premier of Alberta, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and even Prime Minister Stephen Harper before him, all stated that Alberta’s Oil Sands “must be phased out”, what political options do we in Alberta have left?  What constitutional or legal tools do we have at our disposal that we can actually use and achieve a significant effect?

The answer is the creation of a big-tent United Independence Party. One that is willing to make the threat of independence from Canada, and actually mean it. This party must involve and be open to both registered and non-registered political parties including: Wexit Alberta, the Independence Party of Alberta, the Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta, the Alberta Advantage Party, independence supporters within the United Conservative Party of Alberta, the Alberta Freedom Alliance, and the Alberta Independence Movement.

The fact of the matter is that Albertans, under the current Canadian constitutional framework, cannot use a referendum to force the other provinces of Canada to renegotiate Equalization. But what we can do is elect a political party to form government, who will both unilaterally implement firewall-style legislation on taxation, pensions, immigration, firearms, and policing, while also willing to hold a binding referendum on the independence of Alberta from the rest of Canada.

For this to happen, we need two political developments to occur.  

One:  Albertans have to be willing to embrace our sovereignty, and engage in the same type of economic warfare against Ottawa, that they have waged against us; and

Two: Political parties seeking independence and greater autonomy from Ottawa must bury their personal and political grievances with one another to present a credible, mainstream, and united front against Ottawa.

For independence minded people (myself included), one of the greatest challenges can be trying to work with other people when we ourselves are convinced that our own way is the best way. Yet common sense tells us that there is strength in numbers. We can ensure that our values remain intact while exploring different tactics and strategies to defend our province and the people we love. Let unity between the independence parties be a strategy that we adopt.

Peter Downing is the founder of WEXIT

Opinion

LETTER: Stop repatriating ISIS fighters to Canada

A reader says that Canada must shut the door on returning ISIS fighters.

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RE: Calgary man charged with terror crimes after allegedly training with ISIS in Syria

The arrest of a Calgary man by the RCMP on terror-related charges linked to his time with the Islamic State should be a stern reminder to Canadians that the old foe of Islamic extremism hides beneath current tensions. The RCMP say there are 190 Canadians linked to Islamic terror groups. Sixty have returned to Canada. The most notorious organization, Islamic State, butchered its way across nations and conquered sizable territory and resources.

We should never forget that these groups intend us harm. ISIS, more than any other, seduced many individuals into committing crimes for them – many of these persons were never officially linked to Islamic State. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is right to counsel Ottawa to never allow the repatriation of ISIS fighters back into this country. Last month, Human Rights Watch accused Canada of abandoning some of these people inside prison camps variously controlled by the Kurds and the Turks.

The problem of terrorist repatriation is a global one. The Kurds and the Turks, by turns, have demanded their return and an end to their unwanted global responsibility. Britain’s appellate court has been lambasted by critics for allowing its former citizen, dubbed the Jihadi Bride, an ISIS member, to return home. Shamima Begum left Britain for Syria and stayed with the terror group for three years. Now sitting inside a refugee camp, she apparently begged to be repatriated. Britain’s Conservative MPs argue her return sets a dangerous precedent. They are correct in saying so.

Global, indeed Middle Eastern, security has always depended on a powerful alliance between the U.S, Israel, and a few Arab nations. States like Egypt and Jordan share military and economic partnerships with Israel. The American withdrawal from parts of the Middle East like Syria was a mistake. They enabled the Taliban to rebound and Hezbollah to resume attacking Israel. The China-Iran alliance could enable the tracking of Western forces. 

Christopher Mansour
Barrie, ON

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Opinion

LETTER: There won’t be any accountability for WE in this Canada

A reader says that Canadians shouldn’t hold their breath that any accountability will come in the wake of the growing WE Scandal.

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The Kielburger brothers are like the prime minister; they think most people would believe the WE charity along with the founders wouldn’t benefit from administering a near $1 billion dollar program. The Conservative’s have called for a RCMP investigation of WE and Trudeau’s involvement. I can’t see that happening.

Brenda Lucki, the RCMP Commissioner in the SNC-L affair, could have applied to the courts for release of cabinet documents, but she chose to hide behind the PM’s cabinets privilege. The Ethics Commissioner has no teeth to impose any real penalty on these ministers who again, abuse Canadian finances. This is a failed federation, lead by a corrupt PM and finance minister along with the PMO that has its head in the sand.

On another point.

WEXIT is sounding better, every day, for Albertans, but I don’t think Premier Kenney had any intention of taking the next step to give Albertans a say. Premier Kenney changed his tune after he was elected to the Premiership. I am not impressed with him as he was all fire and brimstone prior to the election, but now I feel he is just another politician who pulled a bait and switch on his real intensions. To bad I didn’t hear him tell Albertans that he was a committed Federalist prior to saying he was fighting for Alberta. I would have changed my vote for sure. 

Steven Ruthven
Calgary, AB 

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Opinion

BARNES: Time to replace the RCMP with an Alberta force

Drew Barnes writes that Alberta should immediately begin the process of creating its own police force.

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Guest opinion column from Drew Barnes, MLA

In the Fair Deal Panel report, it was recommended that Alberta create its own police force. It is what we heard loud and clear from Albertans across the province. It is imperative, now more than ever with the overreaching policies of Ottawa, that we have control over policing in our own land. Premier Kenney – in the government’s response – has committed to conducting a further analysis of the panel recommendation to move to an Alberta Provincial Police. This analysis will support why we should have our own police force that is overseen by a directly elected Alberta Chief of Police. An Alberta Provincial Police force is a constitutional right that we have, and it should be exercised. 

Historically, Alberta had its own police force from 1917 to 1932. During that period, Alberta saw an increase in arrest rate and conviction, and a decrease in movement into Alberta by those with criminal intent. The reason for this increase has been attributed to the institutional difference in focus and priorities of a national vs an Alberta entity. 

This history serves to underscore why we need a police force that is familiar with the Alberta experience. One of the issues the RCMP have that makes it difficult for them to effectively police the province is the constant in-and-out of its members in communities, which nullifies the benefits that come with being familiar with an area and its particular challenges. An officer raised in Jasper, Ontario will be less familiar with the issues and concerns of Jasper, Alberta, than an Albertan. While some RCMP recruits may be from Alberta and may land a position in Alberta, that is too often not how it works. The lack of familiarity with community, and short-term posting protocol of the RCMP is an ongoing, acknowledged hinderance, for both the officers and the community.

The costs to operate the RCMP increase at a higher rate than provincially run police forces. A study comparing these costs found that over the span of eight years, the cost of operating RCMP detachments rose an average of $44.50 per capita. The costs for the Ontario Provincial Police force rose only $37.10 per capita on average during the same period.

We can cancel the contract with the federal government and the RCMP with two years notice. Providing notice that we will cancel the contract can take place as early as March 31, 2021. This would allow us to terminate the contract as of March 31, 2023 at no cost. Within that two-year gap, we can work out the details, such as settling accounts over buildings and equipment, which the current contract provides a road map for.

As a province, we even have a basic template in place that make this easier. The Alberta Sheriffs already perform many police duties in our province with 950 sworn members and 16 stations. We would simply need to look at expanding them into the areas that presently utilize RCMP service. 

The RCMP is a proud and iconic symbol of Canada, made up of proud, hardworking members from across Canada, however, it is time for Alberta to consider taking back it’s policing, to create local ownership, accountability, and to hire Albertans to police Alberta. Albertans should determine their own policing priorities based on their particular needs. It is time to bring back the Alberta Provincial Police.

Drew Barnes is the UCP MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat

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